Accessibility links

Nigeria Declares State of Emergency Over Ebola

  • VOA News

A Nigerian port health official uses a thermometer on a worker at the arrivals hall of Murtala Muhammed International Airport in Lagos, Aug. 6, 2014.

A Nigerian port health official uses a thermometer on a worker at the arrivals hall of Murtala Muhammed International Airport in Lagos, Aug. 6, 2014.

Nigeria's president has declared a national emergency over the Ebola outbreak, while the World Health Organization says the epidemic now constitutes an international public health emergency.

Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan Friday approved nearly $12 million of emergency funds to contain the outbreak, which has led to two deaths in the commercial capital, Lagos. President Jonathan also asked schools to extend their holidays and urged religious and political groups to avoid holding large gatherings that might spread the virus.

Also Friday, the World Health Organization reported the number of deaths from the epidemic in four West African countries continues to rise. It said total number of cases stands at 1,779, and that 961 of those people have already died.

The WHO declared the outbreak an international health emergency that requires an extraordinary response to stop its spread.

At a news conference in Geneva, WHO director Dr. Margaret Chan said the four West African countries affected by Ebola "do not have the capacity to manage an outbreak of this size and complexity," and appealed for greater international aid.

Authorities in Liberia and Sierra Leone have already declared public health emergencies and moved to limit people's movements in an effort to stop the virus from spreading.

Liberia's Assistant Minister of Health Tolbert Nyenswah told VOA that Liberian health workers are afraid of being infected and need more international help.

"WHO, CDC, MSF need to mobilize these people to come to Liberia and give courage to our health workers that are panicking because of the numbers of them getting infected," said Nyenswah.

He also said that Liberia's government has started discussions with the U.S. National Institutes of Heath to see about obtaining some experimental medicine that seems to be helping two U.S. health workers who contracted Ebola in Liberia.

"We have started already, some level of discussions with the NIH to see how we can tap into some of those trial medications and vaccines that they [American health workers Writebol and Brantly] are having, so discussions have already started and they are in a very premature stage."

The current Ebola outbreak is on pace to infect more people than all previous outbreaks of the virus combined.

On Thursday, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention activated its emergency operation center at the highest level in response to the outbreak.

The CDC chief, Dr. Thomas Frieden, told a congressional hearing on Ebola that his agency will soon have 50 disease experts in West Africa, and that he is confident the virus will not result in any major outbreak in the United States.

There is no known cure or vaccine for Ebola. Patients may experience fever, vomiting, diarrhea, body aches and uncontrollable bleeding from all openings in the body, including the eyes, mouth and ears. Initial symptoms are often similar to malaria.

Some information in this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

Show comments